The Amazing Jar that changed the world

He looked in amazement at the little fern, growing in the sealed jar. According to Dr Ward it had been growing there for three years.

“But what nourishes it?”

“Sunlight.” He replied, “Water evaporates, and condenses in the jar. Minerals feed the leaves, and return to the soil, all it needs is light.”
“Is it of any use?”
“Use! Glass boxes filled with plants, on a ships deck, will carry them safely around the world. We will move useful plants wherever we want. This could end famines, create industries and beautify gardens, it could change the world.”
It did.

Unpacking a Wardian Case at Kew in the 1920’s photo from Kew Gardens

All true.
In 1829 Dr Nathanial Ward tried to hatch out a moth chrysalis, it died, but a tiny fern seedling growing in the jar continued to grow although Dr Ward did nothing. Realising what this might mean he experimented and a decade later had a successful box for transporting pants around the world. Properly named the Wardian Case, after its inventor, it was used to transport medicinal, food and commercial crops around the globe. It really did change the world.


Written in response to this week’s carrotranch prompt
May 7, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to nourish. The characters can nourish or be nourished. What else can be nourished? A tree? A setting? Does the sunset nourish the soul? Go where the prompt leads!


Filed under Historical tales, Scientific History

5 responses to “The Amazing Jar that changed the world

  1. Cycle-delic. You always have such interesting responses. Cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an impact that must have had! Scientists and writers are always making discoveries when something else fails. It’s that curiousity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The impact was vast, quinine was made in India saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Rubber was brought to the Far East creating a huge industry, and a book entitled ‘The trees of Britain’ could be called ‘The Trees of the Temperate Regions of the World’, as they are now the same.


  3. Pingback: Nourish « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  4. Enjoyable story and educational – a great combination. (But please don’t tell me they used it to bring Himalayan balsam.)


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